Busikong Greenland Multi-Purpose Cooperative (BGMPC), situated in Sitio Busikong, Kibleg, North Upi, Maguindanao del Norte, started from humble beginnings, rooted in poverty and the challenges faced by the local farmers.
The septuagenarian couple, Abdulrahman Salik, 75, and Hadiguia Salik, 74, stand as inspiring figures in their community, demonstrating their love for gardening and family. They founded this cooperative, believing that it could help not just their family but their community as well.
Despite facing poverty, hardships, and uncertainties, their commitment enabled all eight children to receive education, with four obtaining college degrees and others engaging in livelihood activities.
The resilience of the couple, who were able to beat the odds with their love and support for one another, becomes the driving force of the cooperative to advance its farming methods.
When asked what could be the secret to success, Hadiguia said, “You must be passionate about what you are doing. Not all successful people are significant. Once you enjoy what you do, you will succeed. And we do our part to help and share our knowledge about farming.”
Shift from synthetic to organic farming
Farming nowadays is dominated by synthetic methods, which makes the production cost too high aside from the health and environmental concerns of using too many chemicals. The farmers are having difficulty making both ends meet.
The chemical-based farming is damaging both nature and our health. Every day, farmlands are getting smaller, and more farmers are facing the consequences. The 24-year-old cooperative is using this reality as a motivation for its journey.
In 2015, BGMPC took a bold step, shifting from synthetic farming methods to adopting and promoting the Organic Farming System. This move aimed to address the challenges posed by the dominance of synthetic methods in modern farming, aligning with their commitment to environmental sustainability and community well-being.
With its initial success, BGMPC is seeing a future for the diversification and integration of food and income sources using the organic system through the mobilization of local talents and resources. The road ahead is not easy, but its pillars are determined to take one step at a time.
Aside from the money-earner production of high-value vegetable crops which include lettuce, eggplant, squash, chayote, ampalaya, string beans, tomatoes, and others, the cooperative is also experimenting with the integration of other crops such as fruits and herbs.
BGMPC also conducts immersion type of training, seminars, and facilitation on organic farming, entrepreneurship, and rice programs. The tasks have been getting bigger after the group expanded its demo farm from a quarter of a hectare to two hectares, which can be expanded up to 5 hectares.
BARMM’s interventions and support
As BGMPC continued to grow, the invaluable support provided by the Bangsamoro Autonomous Region in Muslim Mindanao (BARMM) became a catalyst for its development.
The assistance from various BARMM ministries, such as the Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), Ministry of Agriculture, Fisheries, and Agrarian Reform (MAFAR), Ministry of Basic, Higher and Technical Education – Technical Educational and Skills Development (MBHTE-TESD), and Cooperative and Social Enterprise Authority (CSEA), became an instrument for the growth of the cooperative.
BGMPC member and trainer Baitan Dadigan, said, “BARMM helped us a lot. With the peace dividends, we experienced no more war […] many programs of the BARMM reached us at the grassroots level.”
“The training and inputs provided by the Bangsamoro Government to our communities have a great impact on us. I have known also that Farm-to-Market roads were constructed in many remote areas in the BARMM [which greatly helped the farmers],” she added.
With the growing demands from clients, with the hard work and motivation from the cooperative members, and with the assistance from our supporters, the cooperative has found a new haven. Its new crop production site is a 2-hectare land that can be expanded up to 5 hectares located within the community of Sitio Busikong.
The name BGMPC is becoming more popular, especially for individuals, groups, and institutions that are patronizing and supporting organic agriculture. More visitors came in to talk to the farmers of BGMPC to learn more about the technology and to witness how the group is unfolding.
Visitors are mostly from the academe, local government units, government, and private offices, people’s organizations, and individuals who have an interest in organic crop production. Donors and benefactors are also visiting bringing inspiration to the BGMPC and the local community members.
Continuing the legacy
The BGMPC’s operation was challenged after the passing of Abdulrahman last year. However, his son, Engr. Jandatu Salik, 43, stepped in to continue his parents’ legacy.
The young Salik currently chairs the cooperative. He said he is “optimistic” about the cooperative’s future. He reignited the enthusiasm and interest of the BGMPC members to put more effort and better strategy into promoting more sustainable organic farming.
Through the years BGMPC has had its fair share of challenges and constraints but with the painstaking endeavors of its members and with the support of its benefactors, the cooperative is standing still and continuously utilizing its lessons in its journey towards a more sustainable organization.
For Jandatu, the last five years have been very fruitful, noting, “This is because of the continued support and assistance of many individuals and groups, including the BARMM Government, believing in [our] cooperative’s cause and potential.” (Kasan Usop Jr./BIO)